By Mina Levi, DDS, 05/08/2014
It is likely that at some point in your life, you have heard of people needing to wear a bite guard, or more popularly called a night guard. There are many different situations in which a person would need to wear a custom mouth guard to protect their teeth, whether it is a snoring night guard, TMJ bite guard, or sports bite guard. In this article, we will discuss the types of bite guards, what conditions they are necessary for, as well as how to take care of your mouth guard if you have one.
What is a bite guard?
A bite guard is also known as a night guard, mouth guard, dental guard, teeth guard, or stress guard. A bite guard is a plastic dental appliance that is provided to a patient by a professional dentist or bought over the counter to protect the teeth from damage due to clenching and grinding, or from excessive force in a sporting situation. Clenching and grinding usually happens unconsciously during sleep or, in extreme situations, when the patient is concentrating.
Types of bite guards
∑ Full arch night guards. Full arch night guards are bite guards that fit all the way across a single arch, usually the maxillary arch or upper jaw. Full arch night guards are available custom made from the dentist or over the counter.
∑ NTI bite guards. NTI bite guards covers only part of the mouth, such as the two front teeth, and clips over ether the top or bottom front teeth and keeps you from biting down all the way. NTI night guards are only available as a custom made bite guard option from your dentist, they are not available over the counter.
∑ Custom made bite guards. Custom made night guards are bite guards that are made for you specifically and professionally. For this night guard, you would go into your dentistís office and they would then take impressions for your bite guard so that they are made to fit your teeth and your mouth only. Then the mouth guard is fabricated by a professional dental lab with the strongest and best prescription material so that your night guard is strong and lasts a long time.
∑ Generic night guards. Generic bite guards are less expensive than the custom made mouth guards, and can be found over the counter at many pharmacies and large department stores. Generic night guards usually involve boiling the plastic piece that comes in the kit, biting into it to make the teeth impressions, and then letting it cool to set the impression permanently. Although generic night guards are more affordable, they are made with cheaper, non-prescription materials and may not last as long or work as well. Also, without having a professional assess the fit of the bite guard, it may cause jaw problems if the fit is not correct.
Conditions for wearing a bite guard
2. Protecting cosmetic work. After a person has cosmetic work done, such as porcelain laminate veneers or Lumineers, clenching and grinding at night can break these restorations without the proper protection. A night guard will help protect the beautiful cosmetic dentistry from being damaged and you will avoid paying high fees to get them replaced.
3. As a retainer after orthodontic work. Once orthodontic treatment is finished for a patient, for example once they have finished Invisalign treatment or have their clear braces taken off, they will need to wear a retainer. A bite guard will keep the teeth in alignment just like a retainer, and will function to protect the teeth as well as keep them straight.
4. TMD problems. TMD is a disorder that occurs as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint, and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw. A night guard will help set the jaw in a less traumatic position during the night as well as help with clenching and grinding pain.
5. Snoring. Sometimes, snoring can be caused by the body working harder to get air through the airways when the tissues are close together in a sleeping position. Bite guards can help set the jaw into a position to open up the tissues and make it easier for air to flow through the airways.
6. Athletics. People who play sports, especially contact sports, know that there is sometimes roughness and the possibility of getting hit in the face. Blows to the face or jaw region can cause breakages of the teeth. Wearing a sports guard during play will help keep all of the teeth in-tact, even when there is an accident.
Next week, we will talk about how to clean and maintain your night guard. If you have any questions about night guards or you think you have symptoms of clenching and grinding at night and think you may need a custom bite guard fabricated for you, give Mina Levi, DDS Dentist San Francisco a call at (415) 513-5066 or visit us on the web at www.minalevidds.com.
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